Extinguish Distractions

Christopher Nolan, one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, does not have a cell phone. In an effort to live a focused and productive life, he is vigilant about keeping his personal bubble distraction-free. I’ve advocated for periods of digital silence before, but Mr. Nolan’s approach to creative sanctuary is something else entirely. No outside forces may enter the gates of his life while he is working. That’s a special thing.

We consume so much information every single day: emails, articles, status updates, pictures and video. Since the beginning of the year, I have consumed approximately 2,000 emails, 6,400 tweets, 12,500 articles and god knows how many status updates. Let’s conservatively estimate that I spend an average of 20 seconds per item (an overestimate for tweets; a radical underestimate for email and news). By that average, I spend around 58 hours per month or 12% of my time awake consuming emails, tweets and articles alone. Realistically, I think that number is closer to 35% or 40%. Needless to say, that’s a lot.

The numbers make me sick. I could be spending time creating for and giving back to the world. I can only imagine how much more I could get done if I extinguished those distractions from my life. After adopting the Galaxy Nexus, I am now more connected than ever. I’m starting to feel the water rising to my ears – and I don’t like it. Tonight, I vow to wean myself off consumption as much as possible. I will keep this blog up to date with any tips I discover along the way.

New iPhone Summary

For my readers who are not plugged into tech news every waking minute, here is a quick overview of Apple’s keynote this morning. No big surprises in Cupertino today:

iPhone 4S

  • No iPhone 5 yet, mostly performance enhancements: improved processing (A5 chip, 2x faster than before), graphics (dual-core, 7x faster than before), battery life, and download speeds (14.4 MBps).
  • Improved camera: eight megapixel, 3264 x 2448 resolution, 73% more light, faster capture speed, Hybrid IR filter for more accurate color and uniformity, sharper lens elements, wider aperture, face detection, and better white balance.
  • 1080p HD video camera with image stabilization, noise reduction.
  • The phone will be a GSM / CDMA hybrid, working on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint.
  • AirPlay Mirroring: mirror your iPhone on television sets, wired or wireless.

The most notable announcement was the iPhone integration with Siri, a personal voice recognition assistant. Hold the home button on the iPhone and Siri will listen. Ask her anything you want, and she will return information, a search query, schedule a meeting, send a text message, set an alarm, perform a function on your phone, and more. She can also dictate for you. Siri was started as an iOS app in December 2007 and acquired by Apple in early 2010. Nothing new here.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S start Friday. The phone will be available October 14th in black or white casing. Pricing as followings (with a two-year contract): $199 16GB, $299 32GB, and $399 64GB.

Other Announcements

  • Cards App: make your own greeting cards, $2.99 per card
  • iPod Nano improvements to the fitness experience and timekeeping faces (Nano = your future watch)
  • iCloud will launch October 12th
  • Find My Friends feature: similar to Google Latitude, anyone on a GPS enabled Apple device can open their location up to contacts and share where they are. It is unclear how integrated this feature will be.

Overall? Underwhelmed. The iPhone 4S met none of my needs for a next-generation phone, except perhaps performance enhancements. This new model will no doubt outsell the rest, but I’m not sold yet.

My Next Smartphone

A challenge to the smartphone market: I expect my next smartphone to have three things:

  1. Near Field Communication (NFC) for mobile transactions
  2. 4G data connection
  3. Quad-core Processor (minimum Dual-core processor)

I am putting my money on NFC (no pun intended) and the future of mobile transactions. I also expect the hardware to help streamline user interface interaction and application processes. Until these expectations are met, I will stick with my aged BlackBerry Bold 9650. I will likely invest in the first device that meets these standards.

Bring it on, Apple and Samsung!